Quarry History

Working Limestone Quarry

As a rock quarry in the 1800s, it was a major supplier of lime to San Francisco after the Gold Rush. It is part of the Cowell Ranch Lime Works.    

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Conversion to amphitheater

In the early 1960s, as part of the original UC Santa Cruz campus, the quarry was reimagined as an amphitheater. The design by modernist landscape architect Robert Royston dramatically connected the campus to its history and the natural landscape.

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A stage for leading voices

As an amphitheater it played a central role in campus life for many decades. It hosted convocations, rallies, performances, and leading voices of the times—from Cesar Chavez and Angela Davis to Buckminster Fuller and Joan Baez.

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A quiet period and rebirth

The amphitheater fell into disrepair and events were discontinued in 2006. Efforts to reopen it took hold in 2013 as part of the Campaign for UC Santa Cruz. A feasibility study identified ways to update its infrastructure and expand seating while honoring its original design. The project received a major boost when more than $6 million in student fees were committed to the project. Private donors gave $1.5 million.

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Reopening in Fall 2017

After more than a decade offline, the Quarry reopened in fall 2017. Its stage and seating upgraded, electrical connections made, a new future planned. A concert on October 14 marked the start of the Quarry’s newest beginning, here are photos from that event.

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Quarry in the news

A photo exhibit has been created for the Quarry by the UCSC library.

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